Happy Easter, everyone! As I write this, I am enjoying a nice cup of Starbucks Morning Blend (yay, K-cup machine!) and dreaming about all of the food I am going to be eating at Easter functions later today. The Ryan and I have two functions to attend, so we will have to taste everything sparingly to leave plenty of room, I suppose. It’s unfortunate that all of my friends and family are such good cooks sometimes. But on to the cookies!
The other day as I was doing my normal rounds on foodgawker, I came across a beautiful recipe for lemon sugar cookies with lemon buttercream icing – all from scratch. As soon as I opened the recipe, I immediately knew – those were coming out of my oven this weekend. The pictures were so bright and fresh, I have never wanted to bake anything more in my life!
I was relieved to read that the only thing on the ingredient list that I didn’t have in my house was cake flour. Oh, and a cookie sheet. So, after work, I headed to the store. I am pleased to thank Target for my brand new KitchenAid cookie sheet, and I am angry at all of the grocery stores for not carrying cake flour. I ended up with pastry flour, which is NOT the same as cake flour (the protein content of pastry flour is higher than that of cake flour, and cake flour is bleached to make it more delicate, where pastry flour is not), but out of the two evils (pastry flour or all purpose), it was the one I decided to go with. That being said, it is possible to substitute all purpose flour for cake flour by using a 1:1 ratio minus 2 tablespoons, and adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (the cornstarch helps to break down the protein and lighten the flour).
I didn’t do that, though, I just went balls to the wall with my pastry flour and had a good time. With the Easter parties we are attending this weekend, I had the perfect excuse to make these cookies. Normally if I want to bake something, I send the Ryan to work with the goods. We may eat a piece or two..or three, but for the most part, we let the hungry software engineers have at it. That’s the good thing about the Ryan’s work – plenty of hungry nerds to feed. As I understand it, most of my baked goods don’t make it past a half hour there. Try getting away with that at my office – not likely. Everyone just looks at the food and says, “That looks so good, but I can’t! It will mess up my diet!” It sucks to work with all women sometimes.
These cookies, however, will be eaten by hungry Easter party goers and their children today, so all is well. 🙂 Here is the creation of these lovely Easter treats step by step:
Ingredients: 2 Lemons (Juice and Zest), 3 Cups Pastry Flour, 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder, 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, 2 Large Eggs, 1 Cup Sugar, 3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar and 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla; 1 & 1/2 Cups Unsalted Butter; My hand mixer and flour sifter.
Sift three cups of the flour into a medium sized bowl.
Add the salt and baking powder, mix until well blended and set aside.
Next, set to work on the “wet” ingredients. Using your electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s fluffy.
Next, add the eggs one at a time and mix in after each addition.
Finally, add the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined.
Gradually add the flour mixture and combine thoroughly.
You should now have a pretty dough! 🙂 Pop it into the refrigerator for at least an hour.
After the dough has chilled, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Roll small balls of dough between your hands (use flour on your hands to keep the dough from sticking) and then press them between your palms to flatten out a bit. Line your cookie sheet with them and place them in the oven for 10-12 minutes. I found that following the directions of 3 inch dough balls made my cookies bake together onto my sheet (oops!) so I made about 1 inch balls and flattened them. I then placed them two to a row and they came out a much smaller, more manageable size and didn’t bake together. Also, my dough was a bit hard after being in the fridge, so I had to let it warm up a tiny bit at room temperature before it was malleable enough to work with properly.
While your cookies bake, get started on the icing.
With your hand mixer, slowly combine the butter and sugar. I did my sugar one cup at a time and did not add the next amount of sugar until my mixture was a nice whipped texture.
By the third cup of sugar, the mixture will not “whip” anymore because there is not enough moisture. Add the lemon zest and juice, and mix again. This time, it will come out nice and fluffy.
The finished product of your icing should look like this. Start icing those cookies! I only used a thin layer of icing on my cookies, and I found that I had about a quarter to half cup of icing left when I finished. If you ice thinly like I do, you may want to halve the recipe for the icing.
Ta da! Lemon sugar cookies with lemon buttercream icing. The cookies alone are great, but the icing is really what makes them pop. I can’t wait to serve these later today at our parties. I am sure they will be a hit. Enjoy!!